Thursday, June 30, 2011

Help! Am I Raising "Selfish Sociopaths" Who Will Someday Hate Me?

I got a few comments on Why I Don't Discipline My Kids that I would like to address here. The comments are quoted in italics, followed by my responses.
Children do not socialize themselves. Left to their own devices they'll regress into the kind of social behaviour that got humans this far, being complete and utter selfish sociopaths.
I'm not sure where this came from. In fact, what I said in my post was quite the opposite. I don't expect my kids to "socialize themselves." I said I do things like stand by them and make sure they don't hurt anyone in the course of playing. I do not advise that children be "left to their own devices."
When they hit a kid on the play ground they need to know it's not okay.
My kids already know, at ages 2 and 4, that hitting is "not okay." And yet, sometimes they do it anyway, just like all children sometimes do. Even the ones who are punished. I will not punish my kids for doing things they already know are "wrong." Instead, I will help them figure out what triggered the behavior, and try to help them prevent escalation and recurrence.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Your Baby Can Walk!

(source)
Imagine someone comes up with a product called Your Baby Can Walk!

It's a series of videos, featuring inspirational clips of people walking around. And close-up shots of kids talking about walking. And catchy songs about how great walking is.

It also includes supplemental materials like little wind-up toys that look like people walking. And colorful, baby-sized foot shapes to put around the floor so your baby could step on them.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Why I Don't Discipline My Kids

Imagine you have a child who is learning how to walk. He can usually make it all the way across a room without stumbling, but he still falls down sometimes.

And he still chooses to crawl sometimes, because he can get somewhere faster, or because he is tired or hungry or sick, and he doesn't have the energy to walk.


Do you punish your child falling down or not being able to walk a certain distance? Do you worry if you don't punish him, he may never learn to walk properly?

Monday, June 27, 2011

Dealing With Unsolicited Parenting Advice

Warning: This post contains language that could be construed as advice. Proceed with caution.

If you are a parent and you spend any time in public, you have probably been on the receiving end of some unsolicited advice. I have run into two general types so far:

The "Oh-So-Obvious" Advice
You're at the grocery store with your infant. You make all the way to the checkout counter without a hitch, when the little one gets upset. You're trying to comfort her while hurrying to unload the cart so you can get out of there as quickly as possible with your food. And that's when it happens. The person on line in front of you says something like: She's probably hungry.

The "You're-Doing-It-Wrong" Advice
You get into a casual conversation with someone and it comes up that you and your kids sleep in the same bed at night, and you aren't complaining about it. The person warns you that your kids will never learn to sleep on their own if you don't push into a separate room as soon as possible. And then offers advice on the most efficient way to train them out of your bed.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

"Our Children Are Not Our Masterpieces"

There is one more quote from Lori Gottlieb's article that inspired me, from Wendy Mogel: 
Our children are not our masterpieces.

This one, I agree with wholeheartedly.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Is Independence Good Or Bad?

Here is one more topic from How to Land Your Kid in Therapy that I can't ignore: independence. On the one hand, Gottlieb talks about how kids have too many choices and too few limits, as I discussed in this post.

The advice is clearly that parents should limit how many choices their children get. We shouldn't worry about respecting our kids' wishes when they want something different than we are offering. This would be allowing... I don't know... too much independence at a young age?? We wouldn't want that.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

One Vaccine My Kids Definitely Don't Need

Here's another topic butchered by Lori Gottlieb in How to Land Your Kid in Therapy: Happiness. She asks the following question, and seems to answer YES, without a doubt:
Could it be that by protecting our kids from unhappiness as children, we’re depriving them of happiness as adults?
In other words, in order for an adult to have a chance at happiness, he has to get doses of unhappiness (word used in the article: "devastation") as a child, dealt by or at least not stopped by his parents. Sort of like a vaccine against unhappiness. One psychologist quoted in the article describes the phenomenon of "psychological immunity," where kids should get used to settling for any crappy hand they get as early as possible in life. When parents step in and try to "fix" everything, he says, the kids won't learn to "adapt to less-than-perfect situations." The effectiveness of the unhappiness vaccine could be easily verified, because the kids with the most miserable childhoods should be the happiest adults. Right?

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

5 Words That Have Nothing To Do With Friendship With My Child Or Anyone Else

If you ever talk about the idea of parents and children being friends, you may hear some concerns from people. The concerns usually include at least one of the following five words, which, to me, have nothing to do with friendship:

Monday, June 20, 2011

School Confusion: Response To an Anonymous Comment

I received a very detailed comment on my Ten Ways For Schools To Confuse a Child post, so I thought I would address each of the Anonymous Commenter's points.

Let's look into this a bit further...

Here, I will include the original list item, followed by the comment in italics, and then my response. Here goes...

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Where Children Are Treated Like Adults

This is my third post in a series about an article in The Atlantic called How to Land Your Kids in Therapy. In it, Jean Twenge, a co-author of The Narcissism Epidemic and professor of psychology at San Diego State University claims that:
We treat our kids like adults when they’re children, and we infantilize them when they’re 18 years old.
Sometimes I feel like I don't live on the same planet as these experts. How many people do you know who treat their kids even remotely like adults?

Thursday, June 16, 2011

"You Can Do Anything You Want." Except That.

This is the second in a series of posts about an article from The Atlantic by Lori Gottlieb, called "How to Land Your Kid in Therapy." In the first one, I argued against the premise of the article, which seems to be that if your child ever goes to therapy, even if he only has wonderful things to say about you, you might be a failure as a parent.

Today I want to address an idea that is often expressed in our society, and is perpetuated by articles like this. I touched on this topic once before, in The Myth Of Permissive Parents. Here is a quote found in Gottlieb's article, from Barry Schwarz, a Professor of Social Theory and Social Action at Swarthmore College:
Most parents tell kids, ‘You can do anything you want, you can quit any time, you can try this other thing if you’re not 100 percent satisfied with the other.’
THIS IS A MYTH! It shocks me every time I hear it. This is NOT what most parents say. Let me alter it slightly for you with some of my own additions in bold: 

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

If My Kid "Lands" In Therapy

There is an article on The Atlantic, called How to Land Your Kid in Therapy. If you haven't read it yet, I recommend it. It is a very long article and I have a lot to say about it, a few posts worth. The author, Lori Gottlieb, is a therapist and mother. When she started seeing patients, she was expecting for most of them to have complaints about their parents. She was surprised to find this was not the case for a lot of them, explaining:
These patients talked about how much they “adored” their parents. Many called their parents their “best friends in the whole world,” and they’d say things like “My parents are always there for me.” Sometimes these same parents would even be funding their psychotherapy (not to mention their rent and car insurance), which left my patients feeling both guilty and utterly confused. After all, their biggest complaint was that they had nothing to complain about!
These experiences led her to wonder: Was it possible these parents had done too much for their children?

Monday, June 13, 2011

7 "Dangers" Of Being Friends With Your Child

If you ever listen to parenting advice, you have probably heard some form of this...

WARNING: Being Friends With Your Child Is Dangerous. Do Not Attempt Under Any Circumstances.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Three Steps To Keeping a Clean House

It's hard to keep a clean house when you have young kids.

You want your kids to enjoy living in their own home, but that means messes will be made. You want to spend as much time as you can engaged with your kids and still have some time for your own pursuits, but that leaves little time for cleaning. So how do you do it?


I have solution for parents out there who want to have a guest-ready house at all times, where everything is clean and tidy and perfectly arranged, without losing too much fun time with the little ones...

Three Steps To Keeping a Clean House

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

The Myth of Permissive Parents

Every few months, an article comes out about the Four Types Of Parents. This latest article calls the four types authoritarian, authoritative, permissive, and uninvolved. 

Authoritarian parents run their families like dictatorships. Uninvolved parents are neglectful. Think "Anna" and "Zoe" from Choosing Your Guide. These are the extremes, and pretty easy to pick out. Any other category is much more complicated.

The verdict is almost always in these articles that the authoritative parents, described as having "high expectations" but also showing "a lot of warmth," win the contest. Basically, these are parents who tell their kids what to do, but maybe say it nicely, and still give hugs. They are supposedly most likely to have "children who are responsible, competent and have high self-esteem."

The thing I really want to address, though, is the idea permissive parents. As defined in the article:
Permissive parents want a warm relationship with their children, but don't have specific expectations for their children. They tend not to set clear rules or goals for their children or tell them what to do.
There is this myth about kids in our culture, that so many of them are spoiled, that they do whatever they want, get whatever they want. That permissive parenting is rampant. There are supposedly all these parents who don't tell their kids what to do. But according to this article, 97% of school-age kids go to school.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Are You Trying To "Gun-Proof" Your Child?

About a year ago I had the unfortunate experience of reading To Train Up a Child by Michael and Debi Pearl. Many things I read in it still haunt me today, and I don't recommend reading the book if you like children, or people in general. It reads like a dog-training manual for people who don't like dogs, only it's meant to be a parenting guide.

One part of the book I will never forget is this, the section on gun safety:
With our first toddler, I placed an old, unused and empty, single-shot shot-gun in the living room corner. After taking the toddler through the "No" saying, hand-switching sessions, they knew guns were always off limits. Every day they played around the gun without touching it. I never had to be concerned with their going into someone else's house and touching a gun. I didn't gun-proof my house, I gun-proofed my children.
Because locking up the darn gun after every time you use it is just too much trouble, I guess. And because a child is supposed to know to avoid all types of guns (even toy guns I imagine) based on the one type of gun used for the lesson. It's not surprising, having read the rest of the book, because the whole idea of their "parenting style" is to completely kill any curiosity in their children for the sake of parental convenience.

While most of us never would go to such extremes, I think we can learn something from the ridiculousness of this idea.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Life Is Not Fair... But Parents Can Be

It's a phrase people use a lot. Life is not fair. And it's true. Nature doesn't do fair. Terrible diseases can dramatically reduce the chances for some people to enjoy life, and cause people to die young and tragically. Hurricanes and tsunamis and tornadoes strike with unforgiving intensity. Some people get much more than a fair share of nature's wrath, while others seem to skip through life unaffected.

What does this have to do with parenting?

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Choosing Your Guide

You have been invited to go on a day-long hike by two of your friends, to the same place, on the same day. You have never been hiking before, so you will be relying on your friend to guide you on the difficult course. You have to choose one of them:

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Gender Confusion

By now, most people have heard about the Toronto parents who have chosen not to share the sex of their baby with the world. The story has attracted a lot of attention from the media and from self-righteous and impassioned internet commenters all over the world. Many people report to be concerned about baby Storm, and how Storm's childhood will be affected by this secret.